Many Rolex riders decided to pop into the Advanced divisions this weekend instead of the CIC3*. In particular, the Advanced A division is jam packed with Rolex contenders, while about a third of the B division are headed to Lexington. The Advanced A dressage test has a few similarities to the four-star test, and is certainly more challenging than the B test.
The B division has quite a lot of pairs who are now attempting their third or fourth Advanced this season, as well as a couple of horses who are stepping up to the plate for the first time.
For the Advanced A, the dressage test will be 2014 USEF A-A and the B division will perform 2014 USEF A-B. The cross country course designer is Tremaine Cooper, and the show jumping course designer is Chris Barnard.
TOP FIVE — DIVISION A
1. Lauren Kieffer and Veronica: Lauren Kieffer is on a hot streak this season, and while she often chooses a bit slower pace across the country, Veronica is one who favors Tremaine’s courses.
Veronica averages a 31.3 on the A test, which is slightly higher than her typical average. The mare jumped double clear over Chris’ show jumping course here at the Fork last year and is certainly capable of doing it again this year. As I previously stated, this pair favors Tremaine’s courses, averaging only 4 time penalties. They are likely to win on a score in the mid-30s.
2. Will Faudree and Andromaque: Will and Andromaque have been through a lot together and are prepping to take another crack at Rolex this month. After a quick run at Carolina earlier this month, Will may take his pace down some to preserve the mare for the four-star.
These two average a 30.6 on this test, which should be good enough for the top two. A careful jumper, Andromaque is unlikely to have any rails when jumping over Chris Barnard’s course designs. However, Will tends to be a bit slower over Tremaine’s courses and accumulated 11.2 time penalties last year at the Fork. This will drop them to second, with a score in the low 40s.
3. Allison Springer and Arthur: Allison also has Arthur aimed at Rolex, and after an unpredictable fall at Carolina when Arthur spooked at a spectator on the cross country course, she’ll be looking for a solid run to gain confidence.
Arthur’s prominence on the flat is no secret, and he averages a 28.2 for this particular test. These two do average a rail and two time penalties over Chris’ courses, which will drop them down a little. Accumulating 8.8 time penalties across Tremaine’s courses will hold their place in third, with a score in the mid-to-low 40s.
4. Lillian Heard and Share Option: Yet another pair headed to Lexington, Lillian and Share Option are careful jumpers and will use that ability to climb through the ranks this weekend.
Share Option actually favors this test a bit, averaging 34.1 penalties. A tendency to jump double clear over Chris’ designs will inch them up the ranks. An average of 9.6 penalties over two previous rounds at this venue will help them into fourth, with a score less than a point behind Arthur.
5. Will Coleman and Obos O’Reilly: Unlike the previous four pairs, Obos O’Reilly will be doing his very first four-star later this month. Will has taken his time with this horse, and it’s paid off, with his dressage getting better and better.
Obos O’Reilly hasn’t performed this test yet, but averages a 35.8 overall. He jumped double clear here in the only Chris Barnard course he has attempted. However, he accumulated 12 time penalties in his only run at a Tremaine Cooper course, here at the Fork in 2013. This should put him in the mid-to-high 40s, rounding out the top five.
TOP FIVE – DIVISION B
1. Lauren Kieffer and Meadowbrook’s Scarlett: This young mare may be new to the level, but has already proven she has the chops to stay with the big guns. After winning her Advanced debut and cracking the top 10 in a star-studded Carolina CIC3*, Lauren’s got another contender on her hands.
Meadowbrook’s Scarlett scored a 28.2 on this test at Rocking Horse, which would be good enough to put her in the lead here. Even if she has a rail, as she did at Carolina, Lauren should still find herself right at the top. An average of only 1.6 time penalties on her previous two runs would give her the win, with a score in the low 30s.
2. Sally Cousins and Tsunami: Sally is taking her experienced campaigner back to Rolex, but first, she’s going to take a crack at the Fork. Sally and Tsunami won the Advanced division here last year as their final prep for Rolex.
Tsunami scored a 32.1 on this test at the Fork last year, which is more than 8 points better than their typical average. In two attempts at Chris’ show jumping designs, this pair has had no rails and only 1 time penalty, which will inch them up the ranks. A fast pair across the country, Sally and Tsunami average 5.6 time penalties over Tremaine’s courses. A final score in the high 30s will secure them second place.
3. Lisa Barry and F.I.S. Prince Charming: Lisa and F.I.S. Prince Charming will be attempting their first four-star on their next outing. After withdrawing after show jumping at Carolina due to an uncharacteristic number of rails, these two are out to have a final solid run before the big day.
F.I.S. Prince Charming scores better than his average on this test, generally near a 37.2. This pair averages one rail over Chris Barnard’s courses. However, a very swift average of only 2 time penalties when running Tremaine Cooper courses will bump them up to third, with a score in the low 40s.
4. Elinor MacPhail and RF Eloquence: Elinor is another who is headed to Rolex for the first time. After a fall at Red Hills, these two bounced back with a second place at Poplar and will be looking to continue their momentum here.
RF Eloquence generally scores around a 32.5 when using this test. They jumped double clear over Chris’ course last year at this venue, which is their only experience with his designs. However, this pair is extremely familiar with Tremaine’s courses and average 13.2 time penalties across the country on his tracks. A score in the mid 40s will land them fourth place.
5. Ryan Wood and McLovin: Like Lauren’s mare, McLovin will only be starting for the third time at this level. Solid runs at Pine Top Advanced and Carolina CIC3* will put him in good position for this weekend.
McLovin scored a 37.7 in February when he performed this test at Pine Top. He also jumped double clear at that venue, for which Chris Barnard is the course designer. Right now, he is averaging 12.4 time penalties across the country, although he has yet to see a Tremaine Cooper course. With those scores, he could finish with a score just over 50, securing fifth.